This is where members of the Green Party of PEI elected caucus share their thoughts about contemporary issues on Prince Edward Island.

Small Business Survival

The number one risk for small business survival is cash flow. The pandemic has abruptly cut off business as usual, and though customers still want and need products and services, businesses are challenged from every direction to keep their businesses alive. Some businesses have laid off staff and taken advantage of government programs for wage subsidies. However, commercial rent, utilities, suppliers, and core staff still need to be paid. These bills are due even if businesses have not had any sales. Loan programs are a tough choice for small businesses who may not be able to take on the risk of additional debt, or may not qualify. Deferred payments of rent, fees, and taxes will still be due at some point later on. 

The new program to support small businesses via ACOA will hopefully address some of these challenges, especially for those that may not qualify for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) or EDC loan. This could include seasonal businesses that are not covered under the PEI Tourism Industry Support program; micro-businesses (3 employees or less); and new startups. Details are expected soon; existing ACOA clients should contact their project officer for more information. 

In the meantime, cash flow is critical. Small businesses must adapt how they do business and how customers can connect with them to keep the cash moving and the business afloat. 

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Rural Islanders need fair and equitable access to supports

In today’s day and age it can be easier than ever for some to stay connected while staying apart. The internet and programs such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Classroom allow us to work, communicate, and collaborate across the province and around the world.

We are even providing some essential services online, such as access to healthcare professionals and education. Assuming you have the necessary tools such as computers, phones, tablets, and – of course – reliable high speed internet, the possibilities are almost endless.

Supporting Islanders and providing services during this crisis is not simply checking a box once initial steps are put into place. As the situation progresses, it is essential to consider who is being left out. Who are facing barriers to access these services? What can be done to remove those barriers?

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Can a Basic Income Guarantee help close gaps in social support structures?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, support programs for those facing economic hardship are rolling out both federally and provincially. However, there continue to be gaps as governments struggling to reach everyone in need within the current social support structures. One thing is for certain, if we had a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) in place with a mechanism for people to report an unexpected loss of income, the process of getting money in the hands of those who need it most at this time would be much easier. There would also be far fewer cracks in the system to fall through.

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Homeschooling in a Pandemic

Hi everyone. I hope your families are doing well. Some of you may already know this, but I have two little boys, and for a few years, I homeschooled them. As such, I’ve had a number of families ask me about this now that all of our kids are home. As we try to navigate this new space, I’ve been asked for my advice a few times and there are some things I’d like to say to all of you who suddenly find yourself with school aged kids at home.

Schooling is different for everyone now

First of all, this is not homeschooling. Homeschool parents have spent months researching curriculum and making a plan. They have support groups, a stack of resources and a community. They had time to get prepared, and they found themselves in that situation by choice. It’s vastly different than finding yourself having to manage schooling during a crisis. The most important thing is not to put undue pressure on yourself. Your kids may not remember everything they read or learned during this time, but they will remember how they felt.

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Help! I’m a homeschool teacher!

Dear Parents,

We are certainly in uncharted territory with the outbreak of COVID-19. New terms like social distancing and self isolation make our family, professional, and social lives come together in ways in which they may never have before.

Recently, under the direction of the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, our government announced Island schools would be closed until at least April 6. Soon after, talk of parents’ responsibility to homeschool became a hot topic of discussion on various social media platforms. As a result, I see many parents feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. 

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When the foreseeable future goes blurry

Dear Friends,

I think, most of the time, we expect tomorrow will be pretty much like today was. This belief in constancy is necessary for our mental well-being and for us to make life plans with a certain degree of predictability.

But then COVID-19 visited our world.

Welcome to a new reality where so much of what we thought was normal has been turned on its head. This is a time where everyone everywhere across the entire world is simultaneously living a bewildering and disjointed new existence.

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Getting serious on climate change

In the last few months, I have come to believe we should be applying a climate lens to more than just “environmental” issues. A lot of the work we need to do to fight climate change can, and must, be done in other areas. This has been discussed a great deal within the Official Opposition, and it has resulted in our decision to specifically bring an economic lens to the climate change portfolio.

We have seen climate action referenced frequently by the current government through mandate letters and during the recent State of the Province address. But we haven’t actually seen a climate lens applied to government departments. This is a missed opportunity to find solutions that not only benefit the environment, but also improve other aspects of Islanders’ lives.

For example, how would government make decisions if there was a Department of Economic Development and Climate Change on Prince Edward Island?

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Pain and hopelessness felt in mental health and addictions

“It’s not acceptable.” These are the words used by Ellen Taylor when describing her own struggle with addiction and the frustration she faced when looking for help on PEI.

Last week, Ellen organized a forum for Islanders to share the pain and hopelessness they feel when facing addictions. She definitely hit a nerve. About 200 people crammed into a small room at the Guild to show the government that something needs to change.

As I stood among the crowd listening to story after story after story of Islanders who couldn’t get the help they so desperately needed and deserved, I realized just how right she was. It is not acceptable.

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PEI lives in an internet dark age

Prince Edward Island depends very much on tourism. We have spent lots of money on promoting our beautiful Island. In fact, people come from all over the world to enjoy the scenic vistas, experience our wonderful beaches, and eat copious amounts of seafood. They take pictures and video to share with family and friends back home. Some are even travel bloggers and vloggers. Imagine their surprise when they arrive on our Island and find themselves in the dark ages of modern technology.

PEI has some of the worst internet connectivity and speeds in the country. Our province depends a lot on the tourism dollars of travelers seeking great experiences. We want those people to share their experiences and to showcase all that we have to offer. So, why have we not yet overcome the obstacle of subpar internet service?

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Lands protection needs leadership

Pop quiz for Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and Land, and Brad Trivers, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change. What is the difference between leadership and interfering?

I’ll let you in on a little secret, you can lead without interfering.

I have asked both these Ministers for an update on the Brendel/Fox Acre land sale. When I asked Minister Thompson in the House about the transfer of over 2000 acres of land from a local family operation to a corporation owned and operated by the Irving family, he sidestepped the question. When I asked Minister Trivers about the status of the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) review of that sale, he spouted concern of getting involved because IRAC is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal.

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